With the launch of Penguin 2.0 last week the SEO community has been busy running analysis and commentary on the initial fallout. In fact today I was planning on writing my own analysis as well. But then I stopped and thought, wait a second, everyone is doing that! Not only is everyone practically writing the same blog post, but everyone is practically using the same tools for analysis. So therefore I thought I would take a break from the commentary and highlight some alternative free backlink analysis tools. These tools are rarely talked about but can provide valuable insights. I am not advising that anyone drop the tools they are comfortable with, but sometimes its a great idea to look at different data sets to get a more well rounded perspective.
SEOs in the US (and most other English speaking countries) have gotten accustomed to relying heavily on Google and Bing for backlink data. Because of that, few SEOs pay attention to the Russian search engine Yandex. And even fewer are aware that Yandex provides free backlink data straight from their webmaster dashboard. But to me, the coolest thing about Yandex is they have an awesome API that makes exporting backlink data easy as pie.
SEOkicks is a German tool that claims to have it’s own index of around 42 billion URLs. I really like how easy it is to use and the ability to instantly export into a CSV. The data set includes the domain’s IP address along with Moz’s Domain Authority metric. The only down side to this tool for us Americans, is its written completely in German. So you might have to use an online translator to get the full experience.
Ok, so I know what you are thinking, “um, Joe, Google is not alternative“. That is correct, however, based on how little I see Fusion Tables used, I would say it is pretty alternative. For those of you that don’t know, fusion tables are an amazing way to visualize data. Using them to analyze backlinks allows the SEO to see complex relationships between sites. Also if you need a visualization to make your client say, “Wow!” this is the tool to use.
If you are a datahound then it is likely that you spend most of your time inside Microsoft Excel. While Excel can do a lot of amazing things, it’s open source alternative is pretty awesome as well. I will admit that I am a bit bias with Open Office, I have been using it for the last three years with out fail. The only down side to using Calc is many of the pre-made design templates for Excel don’t work well. But you can easy create your own. Oh and also, did I mention that it is…..free?
Like Google’s Fusion Tables, Gephi is a great way to build dramatic visualizations of a backlink profile. This tool is designed to chart graphs, so it is the ideal solution for showcasing networks and link relationships. One cool aspect of the visualizations is they can show both link connections and other metrics at the same time. Setting it all up can be a bit confusing, but Justin Briggs has a great post that walks you through all of the complicated steps.